Victory DirtWolf Double IPA: Beer Review

October 28, 2013

Victory DirtWolf

Brewery  Victory Brewing Company (Downingtown, PA)

Style  Imperial IPA

ABV  8.7%

My Review

I’m back! It’s been several months, and much has happened in the beverage world. I could go into a long spiel about how I’ve been busy with work and have had no time to write, but the Baron is no bullshitter. Here’s what I’ve been doing with my spare time when I could have been writing about beer and spirits: catching up with Playstation 3, reading about Breaking Bad theories, thinking about how to use my wavier wire pickups in fantasy football, watching Breaking Bad, TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD, watching my favorite sports teams lose, and probably most importantly (at least for my readers’ sake), trying new and fascinating beverages that most of you are too lazy to find for yourself  don’t have time to try yourself.

You know, with all this time off, I’ve come to a life-changing realization about beer and life in general. And that is, that ANHEUSER-BUSCH AND MILLER-COORS ARE THE BEST BREWERS IN THE WORLD.

goodfellas laughing gif

“You really are a funny guy!”

Ah, can’t go wrong with the Goodfellas gif – Baron, you hilarious son of a bitch!

Anyway, like I mentioned earlier, there have been a ton of new brews circulating around the world. The newest one in my neck of the woods is Victory’s DirtWolf Double IPA.  India Pale Ales are a requisite for any brewery these days based on their immense customer demand, and when brewed (and transported, AND stored) properly they can be among the tastiest beers around.

Victory has been producing the very solid Hop Wallop for several years as their year-round imperial IPA offering. For the Baron, it’s always been an above average brew, but nothing that I kept in my regular rotation. After a long period of experimentation, Victory decided to shelve Hop Wallop for the more assertive, more in-your-face DirtWolf.  For you hopheads out there, DirtWolf is brewed with whole flower Citra, Chinook, Simcoe and everyone’s favorite, Mosaic hops.


Mosaic hops, they’re so hot right now!

Tasty. So, without further ado…


  • Appearance  DirtWolf pours a clear golden-amber with a thick, fluffy white head. The wolf on the label reminds you that you’re in for that pleasant, crisp bite of hoppy goodness.  9/10
  • Aroma   While it doesn’t explode in your face like some imperial IPAs, DirtWolf has that typical hop bomb aroma. You get notes of resin, lemon, pineapple, and just the slightest hint of toffee malt16/20
  • Taste   DirtWolf is moderately sweet, with notes of pineapple, citrus, a bit pine, and some biscuity malt before a a dry finish. The taste and aroma are reminiscent of a West Coast style IPA, in the vein of Stone’s and Green Flash’s delectable IPA lineups. If you hate hops for some reason, you’ll likely not enjoy this. I’ve heard a lot of people say they dislike hoppy brews, but I believe just about anyone can enjoy a hop-forward beer in the right circumstance, whether it’s because of the style of the beer (there are dozens varieties) or the food pairing (see below).  35/40
  • Palate  IPAs are not the easiest style on the palate, but DirtWolf brings that pleasingly bitter bite without overwhelming the taste buds. Were it not for the ABV, one could easily down 2 of these bad boys per hour, for several hours. Somewhat highly carbonated for an imperial IPA, each sip leaves you thirsty for more. 9/10
  • Value While the old Hop Wallop was sold for $11/6-pack in my area, DirtWolf is slight more expensive per bottle at $8.49/4-pack. But really, ~$2 for a bottle of an imperial IPA of this quality is a steal. Compared to some of my favorite year-round double IPAs, such as Dogfish Head’s 90-Minute IPA ($10/4-pack), Stone’s Ruination ($11/4-pack), and Firestone Walker’s Double Jack ($13/4-pack), this really is a Beverage Bargain. 19/20
  • Overall  88/100

My Recommendation

I feel very comfortable giving Victory Brewing Company’s DirtWolf Double IPA a “must-try” recommendation. While it may not be the most mind-blowing hoppy beer you’ve had, I can guarantee that if you’re a fan of IPAs this will easily make your regular rotation. With its assertive hop bite, world class drinkablilty (not a word) for the style, and economical pricing, it deserves a place in your favorite refrigerator.  Let’s face it, Victory could put this beer in a 22 oz. bomber and sell it for $9 a pop, and all of us beer geeks would buy it. It’s a veritable bargain at ~$2 per 12 oz. bottle.

Keep in mind, as with almost any IPA, the fresher DirtWolf is the better it will taste. Check the bottling date before purchasing, 3 months or younger is ideal but IPAs are at their best when you can drink them within a month of bottling. If the brew is on a shelf, reach for the pack in the back, as excessive light can skunk hoppy beers, even when they are protected by brown bottles and tall cardboard holders.

Food Pairing

I love drinking West Coast style IPAs like this with bold flavors that won’t be overpowered by the strong hoppiness. Barbeque is an ideal pairing, with smoked beef brisket and pulled pork being the Baron’s go-tos.  Fried foods stand up to IPAs \like DirtWolf as well.  If you’re into cheese pairing I’d go for an assertive (as if there’s a non-assertive) blue cheese or an extra-sharp cheddar. For dessert, the sweeter the better. Cheesecake and bread pudding enhanced by overly-sweet fruit jam or jelly work well, as does extra-sweet cheesecake (think raspberry with buttercream, or vanilla with caramel sauce). Just don’t go for citrus – it’ll be culinary overkill for your palate.



BadWolf Brewing Company – Grand Opening in Manassas, VA

June 19, 2013
Left to right: There Can Only Be One Pale Ale, Idea Golden Ale, Not Bad Brown Ale

Left to right: There Can Only Be One Pale Ale, Idea Golden Ale, Not Bad Brown

The long-anticipated, long-awaited for nanobrewery BadWolf Brewing Company finally opened today, June 19, 2013. Blame assholes for the long delay. For those of you who don’t know, nanobreweries are very small breweries that typically only sell their beers in kegs. Obviously consumption is limited to on-premise glasses and growlers, along with the occasional restaurant bar. Many large craft breweries like Dogfish Head started out this way, so it’s usually based on ownership’s preference and company success as to how far these breweries develop.

Anyway, back to BadWolf. Jeremy and Sarah Meyers own and operate BadWolf, and they are both friendly people who know their beer. Located in Manassas, VA, they caught my eye for (1) growing up in NoVA (experiencing the same pain as myself), (2) being within 20 miles of my domicile, (3) sounding like they were dedicated to the craft beer movement (they are), and (4) being officially founded on my birthday, June 28.

Hook and line, meet sinker. I’ve been eagerly anticipating their opening, and so were hundreds of others today.

Not pictured: 200 other people.

Not pictured: 200 other people.

Like any good American, I decided to sacrifice my lunch break so I could leave work early and visit the brewery promptly. The opening started at 4:00 p.m. and probably 40 people were lined up, eager for a taste. The line was somehow even longer when I left hours later. After chitchatting with employees and other craft beer enthusiasts, I finally arrived inside the brewery. It is impossible to be in a bad mood when you enter a place that serves great beer. You immediately smell the pleasing aroma, and the friendly chalkboard greets you like a long-lost friend.


Operation Noah’s Ark: Bring me two of each to held within my belly!

I want to try everything, so I ordered a glass of each they had available. BadWolf smartly debuted a line of sessionable (6.0% or less), balanced, and tasty brews that will lead to me being a very loyal customer. These brews are highly versatile, and with their relatively low ABV you could pair each with a 5 course dinner without leaving the meal soused like you quaffed a fifth of whiskey. Another thing I appreciated was that they didn’t all have the same flavor profile of a “house yeast” that many breweries employ. They seemed to have utilized different yeasts for their beers, although that could have just been my own weird sense of taste.

I tried to borrow these novelty scissors, unsuccessfully.

I tried to borrow these novelty scissors, unsuccessfully.

Here are my quick takes on the 5 oz samplers:

There Can Only Be One Pale Ale
Pale ales are one of the most relatable beers for those used to macrobrews. While hops are usually the star of this style, BadWolf’s version has a malt backbone that could carry a growler for you. You can really taste the freshness of this ale. The first BadWolf offering I’ve tried sets up the trend of sessionable, well-balanced brews.

Idea Golden Ale
Who needs a light-bulb in your lamp when you can have one in your glass? While it’s BadWolf’s lightest in SRM, it’s certainly not lacking in flavor. A well-balanced ale, it’s excels equally at pleasing your palate as it does pairing with food.

Not Bad Brown Ale
I’ve always though of brown ales as the pale ale’s malt-forward cousin – very relatable, highly drinkable. Not Bad Brown Ale has that distinct caramel malt-forward taste you want in a brown ale. It doesn’t blow you away with flavor, but retains a taste that can keep you interested all night. I honestly don’t know how people in NoVa drink Newcastle when you have fresh, unpasteurized brown ales like this one the area.

If you're watching me, NSA, at least buy me a beer.

If you’re watching this, NSA, at least buy me a beer.

ESB (Extra Special Bitter)
If you’re familiar with ESBs, you know they are bitter only in name. BadWolf’s ESB is typical for the style, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Smooth, malty and refreshing, it’s an ideal beer to enjoy between more hoppy brews.

What’s kind of funny about BadWolf’s Saison is that visually it is indistinguishable from the ESB – they have a nearly identical golden color. However, one inhalation of this beer’s aroma is all you need to know it is the spicy, fruity farmhouse ale that you will love to quaff in the summer months. BadWolf’s version is very clean, with a nice tartness to distinguish it from your typical pale ale.

Emergence IPA
IPAs are the darling of the craft world, perhaps it’s due to the lack of hops in macrobrews that leads to the beergeeks’ hoppy obsession, but regardless IPAs rule craft. BadWolf’s Emergence IPA is an excellent east coast-style IPA, with a healthy dose of hops an an equally impressive malt backbone. It’s very reminiscent of Port City’s revamped (and award-winning) Monumental IPA. I’m excited to see where BadWolf’s IPA line evolves to.

One advantage of being small is the ability to experiment without taking a significant hit business-wise. Many larger breweries produce experimental beers in limited quantities at their home locations to test the consumer reaction and whether they will sell in the marketplace. With their smaller size, BadWolf could brew a jalapenopepper-mexicanchocolate-nutmeg-bourbonsoakedvanillabean-ectocooler stout without the huge risk that a larger brewer would have if they decided to package it.

Manassas Mayor Harry J. Parrish II knows what's up.

Manassas Mayor Harry J. Parrish II knows what’s up.

Taking a look at BadWolf’s future wares, it looks like they are continuing their trend of well-balanced, sessionable brews. The Irish Red will be great for converting macrodrinkers, and porters are one of the most underrated styles in the beer world. Orange Cream sounds like a tasty risk, and who knows what Oncoming Storm could be (want to expand in the comment section, BadWolf staff?).

Overall, I’m very excited about BadWolf’s brewing future. I’m hoping they continue to produce high-quality, relatable session beers for everyone, along with some more outside-the-box experimental brews that they can have fun with while challenging the taste buds of beer drinkers in NoVA.

And yes, I am available for taste testings, BadWolf (email me).


Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock Review: Just in Time for Lent

March 2, 2013


Brewery Ayinger Brewery (Aying, Germany)

Style Doppelbock

ABV 6.7%

My Review

It’s been Lent for a couple weeks now, so we’re in full Bock season. I may not hate my liver have a job so I won’t be attempting the Lenten Bock challenge, but I do plan on quaffing many of my favorite strong German-style lagers. Ayinger’s Celebrator Doppelbock is by far my favorite bock beer.

Doppelbocks, literally meaning “double bock,” were first brewed by the Italian Paulaner monks in Munich early in the 17th century. Contrary to popular beliefs, the monks DID NOT brew the beer to make it through Father Paul’s excruciatingly long and painful sermons. The monks actually brewed bocks to help them last through long periods of fasting.

The longest of these periods of abstinence was Lent, the 46 day stretch between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Being stronger in alcohol meant these doppelbocks were also higher in calories, so they were an ideal companion for Lent. In fact, doppelbocks are sometimes called Fastenbier, or “Lenten beer.” There, you learned something new. Now reward yourself with nice, tasty brew.

  • Appearance Celebrator pours a dark mahogany with a thick, frothy mocha head that laces the glass with each gulp. 9/10
  • Aroma This brew has an earthy, malty aroma of molasses, caramel, dark chocolate, herbal hops. The aroma is lighter than the beer’s appearance suggests. 18/20
  • Taste Celebrator is clearly a malt-forward brew, with notes toasted nuts, toffee, butterscotch, figs, dark fruit, and a bit of chocolate and coffee. While this sounds like a cloyingly sweet mess, it’s actually very mellow. There is a hint of smoke in the finish that balances that sweet body. Extremely enjoyable. 38/40
  • Palate Lagers are typically smoother and crisper than their top-fermented brethren, but Celebrator is by far the smoothest doppelbock I have ever drank. It’s creamy, medium body masks the slightly higher ABV of this fine brew. 10/10
  • Value At $12.99 for a 4 pack, Celebrator is not the cheapest beer around. But it’s one of the many examples (in the beer world at least) of paying a premium for a higher quality product. I have no problem dropping $13 on a brew of this quality. That means you shouldn’t either. 17/20
  • Overall 92/100

Food Pairing For lunch/dinner a nice hearty beef stew, steak, fried chicken and waffles, spicy Mexican cuisine (the spice and chocolate of a mole would be phenomenal), and of course most German fare. For dessert (or breakfast, I don’t judge) lighter-flavored cakes like red velvet, devil’s food, pancakes. If you’re willing to sacrifice beer you can make an excellent Celebrator reduction for waffles and pancakes.

My Recommendation

Celebrator has earned several distinctions in the Baron’s Brew Book: favorite doppelbock, favorite bock, favorite German lager, favorite German beer, favorite lager overall, favorite beer to tell people I drink for “religious reasons,” and favorite beer with unnecessary decoration.

Celebrator goats

Guess who uses unnecessary beer trinkets as Christmas tree ornaments?

Pretty impressive. Needless to say, I highly encourage every beer aficionado to try this classic brew. Dark beer and German beer lovers will especially appreciate this one.

If you gave up beer for Lent, you are clearly a stronger person than I. The Baron feels sorry for your loss and will personally buy you a Celebrator to enjoy on Easter.

American Doppelbocks A lot of readers have found my site through the Buy American Challenge, so here a few great examples of doppelbocks made here in the U.S. that I have enjoyed: Bell’s Consecrator Doppelbock out of Grand Rapids, MI, Tröegs Troegenator Doublebock from Hershey, PA, Epic Double Skull Doppelbock out of Salt Lake City, UT, Great Divide Wolfgang from Denver, CO, and Victory St. Victorious Doppelbock from Downington, PA.


Nostrum Brewing Company to Delight NoVA Taste Buds Soon

February 17, 2013


Northern Virginia will soon be home to another craft brewery, Nostrum Brewing Company. Founded by Chris McClintock, Nostrum is slated to open by early 2014 in either Alexandria or Fairfax County, VA. Chris was bitten by the craft beer bug in college, and like many of us beer nerds he has always dreamed of opening his own brewery. He dabbled in homebrewing and carefully studied the craft while becoming an attorney, before finally being able to kickstart Nostrum.

Congrats, Chris! This is a great story for all the people toiling away in law school: someday, your dreams may too come true!

Planned Nostrum brews include a flagship ESB, a gluten free beer that actually tastes good (they mentioned a pale ale on the page, good choice), an earl grey tea beer, and a peanut butter cup stout among others. A lot of people have cried afoul of the Dogfish-ification of craft beers (that’s not a style! Wahhhh!),  but I for one welcome experimentation in beers.

For every person that gets into craft beer through the traditional route like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Sam Adams, there’s another who becomes a craft fan through Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch or Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar. The Baron can appreciate the subtle nuances of a finely-crafted pilsner, but sometimes the taste buds yearn for something unique and innovative. And come on! Who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter! Lighten up, fellow beer nerds.

As for the name of the brewery itself, I’ll let Chris expound up that:

The name is derived from “nostrum remedium,” an old Latin term that later became synonymous with the colorfully-named cure-alls that were sold in the U.S. during the late 1800s and early 1900s. I’ve always loved the beautiful (and sometimes bizarre) advertisements for these so-called “patent medicines,” and our labels and brand will have a similar look.

But our name is about more than just imagery. Nostrum remedium means “our remedy,” so Nostrum Brewing Company is, in essence, “Our Brewing Company.” Our name reflects our community-minded philosophy: we believe that quality beer brings people together, and everything we do at Nostrum Brewing is based upon this principle. We aim to embody this philosophy in a variety of ways, from offering homebrewing and beer classes at the tasting room to supporting and partnering with local community organizations. Nostrum Brewing aims to be a part of your community just as much as we hope you’ll be part of ours!

Well said. I know of the nostrum name mainly from Chrono Cross *pushes up beernerd glasses* but I’ll accept this version as well.

Between Lost Rhino, Port City, and brewpubs like MadFox, Northern Virginia is becoming slowly but surely becoming a craft beer haven.  I am eagerly awaiting the opening of Nostrum Brewing Co., and my pups eagerly await Nostrum’s spent grain dog treats.

Follow Nostrum on their Facebook and Twitter pages, and sign up for email updates to get the latest news on this up and coming local brewery.

Read the full announcement on


San Francisco Super Bowl Beers

February 3, 2013

San Francisco Beer Week 2013

I have no idea why the day after the Super Bowl is not a holiday. We already have one day where we celebrate a murderous asshole, why not make it two for Ray-Ray? Although Baltimore is somewhat of a local team for the Baron, and I do enjoy watching some of their players like Ray Rice and Ed Reed, there is absolutely no way I will root for a team that employs Ray Lewis. I think we can all agree that Ray Lewis at very least an attention-seeking piece of shit, and at the most a conniving murderer who gets off on deer antler spray.

Another thing we can all agree on is that it completely sucks to be hungover at work. What’s the key to not being hungover, or at least less hungover? Session beers! For those of you who don’t know, session beers are pretty much any beer lower in alcohol, and preferably don’t suck (looking at you, Bud Black Crown). Without further ado, here are some of my favorite San Francisco session beers available now.

Speakeasy – Scarlett Red Rye

Speakeasy Scarlett

Speakeasy’s Scarlett Red Rye pours a dark ruby shade with a fluffy, off-white head. Slight citrus hop aroma, with notes of caramel, toasted malt, and a hint of rye. Scarlett tastes hoppier than its aroma suggests; the flavor is dominated by a co-mingling of rye and herbal hops, with the malt playing the Alex Smith backup role to these two. The Baron’s really been digging the rye ales craft brewers have been putting out recently. I just love the way the spiciness compliment hoppy beers. Scarlett’s light-medium body and low ABV (5.5%) make it one of the more interesting session beer for the Sunday night.

Food Pairing: It would go well with a cheese & cracker platter, especially something tangy like goat cheese. What, there’s no goat cheese or rye sandwiches at your Super Bowl party? Well, shit. Pizza, I guess.

Baron Rating: 85/100

Anchor – Bock Beer

Anchor Bock

Anchor’s Bock Beer ours a dark, murky mohagany with a thick creamy tan head. Aroma of roasted malt, molasses, chocolate, brown sugar, and a faint hint of hops. The taste is malt-driven, which is typical for a dunkler bock style. Anchor Bock Beer has a mildly sweet taste of caramel, toasted nuts, earthy chocolate, molasses, and dark fruits. Its smooth, medium body and 5.5% ABV make it an excellent session beer for someone who likes a little darkness in their life.

Food Pairing: The roasted malt character will pair nicely with heavier fair like pulled pork barbeque, chili, or a chocolatey dessert dish. You at least have chili, right?

Baron Rating: 87/100

21st Amendment – Bitter American

21st Amendment Bitter American

21st Amendment is mostly known for their awesome brews and kickass can designs, but they also produce the Baron’s favorite hoppy session ale, Bitter American. 21st Amendment describes it as an “extra pale ale session ale.” It pours a hazy, golden orange with a frothy white head. Bitter American has a very hoppy aroma that is more American IPA than pale ale, with loads of citrus and resiny hops, with a bit of caramel and biscuity malt aroma. Despite being only 4.4% ABV, it packs in loads of hoppy flavors, with just enough sweetness to edge it more closely to a balanced beer. This a great beer to drink all night. It’s extremely fresh as well, no doubt in part to being canned. A low ABV, hoppy ale like this just wouldn’t taste the same out of a bottle.

Food Pairing: Burgers, tacos, buffalo wings, spicy Asian cuisine. Pretty much any protein to be honest. No trouble finding food that goes with pale ales.

Baron Rating: 88/100


Dogfish Head to Debut Sixty-One, Tröegs Nugget Nectar Hitting VA/DC Shelves 2/3/2013: Baron’s Brews News 1/28/2013

January 28, 2013
The Baron has tried 39 Dogfish Head brews to date. Fanboy? Do people still say that?

The Baron has tried 39 different Dogfish Head brews to date. Fanboy? Do people still say that?

Dogfish Head will have a new year-round brew, Sixty-One, coming in March to all areas lucky enough to be in their distribution footprint. Sixty-One will be another wine-beer hybrid, a specialty of DFH.  Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione came up with the idea after pouring a dash of his favorite red wine into glasses of their signature 60 Minute IPA before serving friends. Available in 4-packs,  Sixty-One will essentially be 60 Minute IPA brew with Syrah grapes. If it’s anything like Red & White, Raison d’Etre, Midas Touch, or Noble Rot I’m sure it will be fantastic. (Psst- Sam, can you guys make Raison d’Extra again? A lot of people have turned 21 since 2009. I will totally spend way too much money to get my hands on some. Thanks!)

Tröegs announced that their delicious, heavenly-hopped ale Nugget Nectar will be distributed to Virginia and DC the week of 2/4/2013. Maryland will get it the following week, the last area to recieve this delectable brew. Sorry, Maryland. Nugget Nectar is widely regarded as one of best imperial IPAs out there (although they consider it to be a imperial amber, close enough). It’s a yearly tradition in the Baron household. HOPS!

Salud and happy drinking!

Victory Red Thunder Review: Beer-rock the Red

January 19, 2013


Brewery Victory Brewing Company (Downingtown, PA)

Style Baltic Porter aged in red wine barrels

ABV 8.5%

My Review

Just in time for the return of hockey: Beer-rock the Red! (Read the first Beer-rock the Red)

As you regular readers know, when the Baron isn’t scaling the world’s tallest peaks or being the world’s second most popular vigilante, he practices an even more dangerous profession: Washington Capitals fanatic. Recent studies have shown that being a Capitals fan takes an average of 12 years off of average life expectancy in adults, even when accounting for common factors such working for top-secret government contractors or daily 20 mile, 2 hour-long commutes.

While last season ended in bitter disappointment once again, we have a new coach and a few other new faces (“He looks like a rapper”) bringing a renewed sense of optimism before the season kicks off today. Will the Caps win the division this year after a second place finish last season? Possibly. Will Ovechkin return to form in a more offensive system? I hope so. Will Florida go 10-0-38 and somehow win the division again? PROBABLY.

Now, to the actual beer portion of the post.

What’s the difference between a Baltic Porter and a regular Porter? The Baltic variety are invariably bottom-fermented (lagers) while the “normal” versions are top-fermented (ales). Baltic Porters are also usually stronger (8%+ vs ~6%) and sweeter than traditional porters.

Victory has taken their Baltic Thunder and aged it in once-used red wine barrels from Wente Vineyards, creating Red Thunder. The Baron is a sucker for almost any brew aged in barrels (don’t even think about it, Budweiser), and I’m a huge fan of Victory Brewing Co so I had to get my hands on this beer.

  • Appearance Red Thunder pours a dark brown with ruby highlights. Its quickly dissipating tan head disappears faster than Alexander Semin in the playoffs. Oh well, not our problem anymore. 8/10
  • Aroma Red Thunder has a nice, subtle aroma of roasted malt, raisins, and chocolate. Usually barrel-aged beers have a stronger aroma, which I enjoy, but this is quite pleasant as well. 18/20
  • Taste The flavor is enhanced by the barrel aging, with loads of red wine, berries, tannin, joining the expected vanilla, cocoa and roasted malt. Red Thunder has a dry, tart finish. A little more tartness would push it into a Don-Cherry-when-Canada-loses-to-America level sourness. So it’s just right the way it is. It reminded me a bit of Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja, but with an addition of roasted character. Very good. 37/40
  • Palate Red Thunder is medium bodied with ample carbonation. Like I mentioned earlier, it is quite tart, so if you’re not into that flavor profile then this brew will not be quite as smooth to you. Don’t worry, I’ll finish the bottle if you don’t like it. 8/10
  • Value For the price of $9.99 you can enjoy this unique brew. I honestly expected it to be in the $12-15 range, so this is a pretty good value for the 750 mL bottle. I have seen it sold for closer to $8 in other areas, stupid cost of living near D.C. 18/20
  • Overall 89/100

My Recommendation

If you’re a beer nerd, and you can find Red Thunder, it’s definitely worth checking out. The red wine characteristics bring an interesting flavor profile to the brew, but it will taste funky if you’re only used to IPAs, stouts, etc. The tartness will also be off-putting to those who prefer more traditional beers.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed Red Thunder. It reminded me of a chocolate and red wine pairing, only not as snobby and without judgmental servers (“Sir, you aren’t supposed to swallow.” “… That’s what she said.”). If you enjoy barrel-aged brews, or any experimental beers for that matter, I recommend you give Victory’s Red Thunder a look.

Salud and go Caps!

Baron’s Brews News 1/13/2013: KBS Release Date, Port City 2nd Anniversary Brew, Bell’s New Seasonal “Smitten Golden Rye Ale”

January 13, 2013

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Founders Brewing Company has announced that their Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) will be released to their distribution footprint the week of April 1st. If you live near Grand Rapids, MI, or just have a lot of free time, you can go directly to their taproom March 27-30 for the official KBS release. Either way, you’re sure to be waiting in line for a while if you want to try one of the greatest beers in the world. Just read the description:

What we’ve got here is an imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year to make sure wonderful bourbon undertones come through in the finish. Makes your taste buds squeal with delight.

Dammit, I knew I should have gotten that blasted drool-resistant keyboard!

Baron-local brewery Port City Brewing Co. will release their second anniversary beer, TWO, a smoked imperial porter. Mmm… porter. I’m sure I’ll be picking up a growler of that when it debuts February 1.  Port City’s head brewer, Jonathan Reeves, also wrote an interesting post on the evolution of the  East Coast IPA. An interesting read, I like the idea of having more subcategories to help new consumers further distinguish characteristics of craft beer BEFORE they buy them. I know I cry myself to sleep just thinking about people drain-pouring precious craft beers that they tastes completely different from what they expected or haven’t developed the palette for yet.

Bell’s Brewery will make an addition to their spring seasonal lineup with Smitten Golden Rye Ale. Straight from the brewery, this new seasonal combines “sharp citrus & resinous flavors from the hops with the earthy, rustic overtones of the rye malt, yielding an interesting take on the American Pale Ale.” Smitten Golden Rye Ale will join Bell’s Consecrator Dopplebock on the shelves this February.

Baron’s Brews News 1/7/2013: Stone Enjoy By 2.15.13 IPA Coming to D.C., Hopslam Shipping Soon

January 7, 2013
Stone Enjoy By 021513 IPA

Copyright © 2013 Stone Brewing Co., All rights reserved.

Stone Brewing Co announced that DC and VA will be blessed by its highly-rated Enjoy By IPA in the coming weeks. Hoppy beers, outside of a few high-ABV monsters, are meant to be consumed as fresh as possible, and as Stone says, this imperial IPA was brewed NOT to last. Be sure to nag your favorite beer purveyor when this brew drops.

In other very exciting news coming out this week, Bell’s announced this year’s Hopslam batch will hit the DC area the week of January 21. If you haven’t tried this amazing, life-changing beer, be sure to try to get a six pack of it before assholes who resell it on eBay buy all of it it sells out. Hint: it usually sells out withing 12 hours of hitting the shelves. Other areas getting Hopslam this year (from Bell’s Blog):

Hopslam will start shipping to areas in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio the week of Jan. 7.

It will begin shipping to Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Missouri and Arizona the week of Jan. 14.

It will then start shipping to Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, Kentucky and Pennsylvania the week of Jan. 21.

Salud and happy drinking!

Bell’s Winter Mafia: Seasonal Beer Review

December 30, 2012

Vito Corleone

People often ask me what my favorite Christmas movie is, usually just so they can tell me Die Hard or Home Alone is their favorite. My favorite Christmas movie is The Godfather, because its one one of my favorite movies, and it has family yadayada. I’m not really big on seasonality when it comes to entertainment, but I’m huge on seasonality when it comes to beer. Winter beers are by far my favorite; I love heavy imperial stouts, malty brown ales, crisp witbiers and so on.

Although winter has only just begun, the winter beer season is already beginning to wind down. I could go on a ten-page rant about how that pisses me off, but instead I’ll tell you about the Michigan brewery that has turned this season from a desolate tundra of wintry death, to a time of year that I actually look forward to. Most breweries have one, maybe two winter beers they regularly release. Bell’s Brewery has NINE. They OWN winter. Other breweries just hope to have a tiny sliver of the winter beer pie (mmm… beerpie).

Expedition Stout AKA Don Vito Corleone

Bell's Expedition Stout

Expedition is the Godfather of the Bell’s Winter lineup. Expedition practices the Art of War. Sure, some of the other beers are flashier, but everyone knows Expedition runs the show. When Expedition speaks, other beers listen. When Expedition doesn’t get what he wants, a rival brewer finds a hipster’s dismembered head in his bed. Don’t mess with Expedition, or his family. And if he makes you an offer…

Style Imperial Stout

Expedition Stout pours an impenetrable midnight black color with a medium milk chocolate head. Big roasted malt aroma, chocolate, coffee, raisins, figs, and licorice. Very sweet roasted malt flavor with notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and a nice wallop of bittering hops. Despite its considerable ABV and huge flavors, this heavy brew goes down smooth. This Capo di tutti capi only gets better with age; cellar this for a year or two and you’ll be rewarded with a mellowed-out malt monster.
Baron Rating 95/100

Third Coast Old Ale AKA Michael Corleone

Bell's Third Coast Old Ale

Barley Wine has often been called the brandy of beers, or the red wine of beers, or pretty much any other alcoholic beverage whose luxurious complexities can only be appreciated by the snooty few. Bullshit. Beer is unpretentious; only humans can make an inanimate object seem elitist. Michael was often seen as “too good” for the Corleone family business. However, despite his highly-polished exterior, we soon find out that Michael is capable of being even more cunning and ruthless than his father.

Style Barley Wine
ABV 10.2%

Pours a murky amber with a quickly dissipating white head. Sweet malty aroma of dark fruit, brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla. The taste is much the same, with a dry, hoppy finish. This is another beer that improves with cellaring – what is currently a strong, slightly hop-forward ale will become a smooth, sweet caramel brew to savor as a dessert, or with a dessert. “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”
Baron Rating 92/100

Hell Hath No Fury… Ale AKA Kay Adams

Bell's Hell Hath No Fury... Ale

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. If you have seen The Godfather Part II you need no further explanation as to why Michael’s future wife is tied to the name of this beer. Scary stuff.

Style Abbey Dubbel

Hell Hath No Fury… Ale pours a dark brown with a fluffy beige head. The nose is more like a traditional Belgian Dubbel while the taste is more like a Dubbel/stout hybrid. Aroma of clove, roasted malt, chocolate, molasses and yeast. Sweet taste of chocolate, caramel, toffee, coffee and dried fruit, with a slight bitterness from the roasty notes. Hell Hath No Fury has a lively-carbonated medium body. Definitely an interesting take on a Belgian Dubbel.
Baron Rating 88/100

Java Stout AKA Tom Hagen

Bell's Java StoutAs consigliere of the Corleone family, Tom Hagen is probably the only character in The Godfather who drinks more coffee than wine, whiskey and beer combined. Kind of necessary when you’re on-call 24/7 as the adviser to the most powerful man in organized crime. It’s kind of like being the Vice President of the United States, only you have to actually do work.

Style Stout
ABV 7.5%

Pours a clear, deep brown with thick tan head. Huge aroma of freshly brewed espresso and roasted malt. This is really the closest a beer could taste like a gourmet cup of coffee. Founders’ Breakfast Stout may be a better overall brew, but Java Stout is THE beer for coffee nerds. It’s medium bodied and can be enjoyed cold or even at room temperature. The Baron drinks it for breakfast sometimes.
Baron Rating 89/100

Best Brown Ale AKA Pete Clemenza

Bell's Best Brown Ale

Ahh the old reliable caporegime, Best Brown Ale. He might not be the brightest nor brawniest, but he always gets the job done. He combines the tactical abilities to set up a hit on rival gang member while having the wherewithal to remember the precious, precious cannoli.

Style Brown Ale
ABV 5.8%

Bell’s Best Brown is one of the Baron’s favorite “regular” brown ales. It’s not barrel-aged or brewed with hazelnuts; it’s just a supremely well-done, well-balanced beer. Best Brown pours a rich mahogany with a foamy off-white head. Nutty caramel aroma with a rich, malty taste. It has just the right amount of hops to keep it balanced, and a hint of cocoa flavor that makes a good companion for the season. A very nice sessionable brew.
Baron Rating 87/100

Cherry Stout AKA Luca Brasi

Luca Brasi
A mainstay in the Bell’s Winter Mafia, Cherry Stout sleeps with the fishes this year due to cold weather killing this year’s Michigan cherry crop. R.I.P.

This One Goes to 11 Ale AKA Sonny Corleone


The original successor to Vito, Sonny was known for being overly aggressive, bloodthirsty and hotheaded. He made his bones at 19 and had so many mistresses it would make Bill Clinton blush. Pretty much a mafia rock star, so this is a fitting beer to honor him with.

Style Imperial Red Ale
ABV 11.0%

Although this isn’t a winter seasonal, This One Goes to 11 is replacing Cherry Stout for this post. Brewed to commemorate Bell’s 11,000th batch of beer, it pours a dark, clear amber with a foamy white head. This One Goes to 11 has a dank hoppy aroma, with notes of grapefruit, pineapple, with a bit of pine and caramel. Tastes of citrusy hops, resin, with a toffee malt backbone. This One Goes to 11 goes down smooth despite its high ABV. I’d love to see the brew become another seasonal for the Bell’s Mafia.
Baron Rating 90/100

Christmas Ale AKA Fredo Corleone


Always thought to be the black sheep of the family, Fredo is not what you expect when you hear the Corleone surname. Similarly, Bell’s Christmas Ale does not resemble anything associated with a typical Christmas beer; no seasonal spices or fruit, no dark, roasted malts. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with either Fredo or Christmas Ale, it’s just that average sticks out in a family full of strong characters. Watch your back, Third Coast Old Ale.

Style Scotch Ale
ABV 5.8%

Christmas Ale pours a dark hazy ruby with a generous off-white head. Light sweet malt and bready aroma. Light malty taste as well, with a bit caramel and some hops in the finish. Thin body with a decent amount of carbonation. A nice winter session beer but nothing that will wow you.
Baron Rating 83/100

Special Double Cream Stout AKA Johnny Fontane


Sporting an olive oil voice and guinea charm, Special Double Cream Stout has known to seduce women throughout the lands. And men. Because its a beer not a person. And unlike Johnny Fontane, you won’t hear Godfather Expedition Stout scolding SDCS “You can act like a man! What’s the matter with you? Is this how you’ve turned out? A Hollywood finocchio who cries like a woman?

Style Stout
ABV 6.1%

Special Double Cream Stout is the smoothest, creamiest stout in the world. Kind of odd since it’s one of the few beers with “cream” in its name yet contains no lactose. It pours a dark brown with a luxuriously rich tan head. Aroma of coffee, caramel, and chocolate. SDCS has a moderately sweet taste of roasted malt, with a tiny bit of burnt bitterness. This brew has an amazingly smooth and creamy mouthfeel that you will make you feel foolish for drinking Guinness Draught.
Baron Rating 91/100

Winter White AKA Connie Corleone


The sweet, spoiled youngest daughter of the Don, Winter White always gets her way. Although Connie doesn’t really bring anything positive to the storyline, at least we get this famous scene on James Caan kicking wifebeater ass:

Style Belgian Witbier
ABV 5.0%

Winter White, nicknamed Snoberon by some, pours a cloudy straw color with a medium frothy white head. Aroma Belgian yeast, coriander, clove, bubblegum, and sweet malt. Taste is moderately sweet malt that is balanced with the coriander spice and delectable trademark Belgian yeastyness. Very smooth, refreshing, and sessionable at just 5.0% abv.
Baron Rating 87/100